He knew he should give a shit that the Chargers were seventeen points down and pretty much fucking up his second place standing in his fantasy football league, but all he could think about were her lips. In the place of every Charger-blue blur and neon orange down marker he saw her auburn apparition. This made him swallow. Repeatedly. And now his throat was dry. His beer was empty.
Maybe she wouldn’t be in the kitchen.
Shuffling towards the kitchen, he noticed that she didn’t seem to be in the hallway. Maybe she didn’t like textured walls and the domeless fixture that screamed “bachelor” from above. She was more of a soft lighting and sconce girl now that he thought about it. They went to a tapas restaurant up on Third Avenue one night and her hair was really pretty in the soft light that poured from the sconces lining the wall. It wasn’t just pretty. He’d never thought of her as pretty, simply because he didn’t look at her that way. Rather, he saw her. The entirety of her each time he was lucky enough to catch a glimpse, cop a feel. Feel her sidle up behind him. Ill-intentioned, she was, with that sidling. As soon as he felt her hand on his hip, he knew he wouldn’t be getting any more sleep because they’d just end up fucking silly and laughing between sweetly passed vulgarities that drenched his bed along with the morning sunlight.
He wondered if the stain on the countertop was ketchup or salsa (salsa, of course) – how long had he been standing there? The tile wove a web around his bare feet, daring him to move in any direction other than the one that would bring her back.
It always came back to the kitchen, didn’t it? She was definitely here. Standing behind him as he stirred soup in the garage sale fifty-cent saucepan, her arms looped around his waist with the occasional playful slip of a thumb inside the waistband of his jeans. She liked to rest her thumbs there. And he could smell her – Christ, could he smell her. Sometimes it was vanilla and others it was some sort of laundry/dryer sheet smell.
He probably needed to do laundry.
He slid his right thumb into the waistband of his shorts (disappointing) and spun around so his back rested against the counter. Digging his toes into a cross-section of grout, he traced the twelve inch square of tile with his long second toe. Monkey toes. That’s what she called them.
Beer – he’d come in here for a beer. Since the thumb wasn’t doing any good in his waistband, he decided to evolve and use the fucker and all its opposable glory to grab the fridge handle. Peering inside, there was beer. And orange juice. And yogurt.
He took out a yogurt and a beer. He missed seeing her sit on the counter, joking with her about leaving her ass prints all over his kitchen. That just made her wiggle and giggle and now it just made him sad. The beer and yogurt now sat side by side on the ass-less countertop, staring back at him with chilly eyes that seemed to ask, “What the hell? It’s warm out here, man.”
Then he saw the blender.
Your run-of-the-mill, typical Guy Blender (that’s how she referred to it). Probably the only thing in his kitchen that didn’t come from a yard sale, the thinnish plastic jug was starting to crack right near the pour spout. If a chunk decided to crack off, he’d probably just slap a hand over the gap and blend, blend, blend. Then he’d lick his hand.
She’d never seen him use the blender. It was reserved strictly for Guy Meals: mid-day, post-run protein shakes with a dab of Green Vibrance. Sometimes a banana. The drinks looked like certifiable Green Ass in a Glass.
She definitely wasn’t in the kitchen right now, so he opened the fridge once again. Tabasco…fish oil…eggs…garlic cloves. Hearts of romaine.
He placed them all on the counter.
It was impossible to forget the way she left. The How.
It wasn’t one of those huge explosions where the neighbors moved out on to their front porches and sat in camp chairs pretending to read yet all the while hoping to see just what all the ruckus was about.
Her eyes, slick with tears, just stared at him – her lower lip twitching on the left side like it did sometimes as she slept. He would stare at her in the darkness some nights and watch her sleep, wanting to reach out with a finger and still her epileptic lip. Touching her would have been enough.
He wanted to reach out and touch her lip that day. He didn’t dare open his (fucking) mouth.
Just as his mind conjured up an image of him wrapping his arms around her and feeling her tears soak his shoulder, he saw her turn. The clip-klop of her flip flops recorded a melancholy soundtrack for her departure, the final note being a gentle click of the front door as she eased it closed in her wake.
They had been in the kitchen.
That day, he just stared at the front door, her klops and the click holding him prisoner. At 8:32 P.M., he had to take a piss. And that’s when he moved for the first time since she’d slipped herself out his front door. He only noted the time because he’d seen the numbers on the microwave glow their green tale, daring him to wonder just how long he’d been standing there.
Rifling thorough a drawer, he grabbed a bottle opener and popped the top on the beer. He took a swig and then…he poured the rest into the blender.
It wasn’t even a misunderstanding. What was there to misunderstand about the fact that she couldn’t (didn’t want to?) marry him?
They’d spent the day wandering around on South Broadway, ducking in and out of antique stores. Procuring only one item from a whole morning of wandering, she carried the innocuous brown bag holding the ice bucket. On a mutual Mad Men kick, they channeled their inner Don Drapers and gladly paid the $24 for the vintage West Bend chrome ice bucket with the penguins marching around the rim. While walking over towards Pearl Street for lunch, she’d even busted out into a little penguin waddle. When he told her he thought it was more Charlie Chaplin than penguin, it prompted a giggle and playful slap to his chest, followed by her grabbing his hand and entwining her fingers with his for the rest of their walk. She held on tight, her middle finger caressing the groove between his knuckles.
Peeling back the foil top to the yogurt, he held it over the blender and paused only a moment before upending that into the jug as well. It landed with a sickly plop atop the beer. He used his finger to scrape the inside of the yogurt container, wiping the take on the lip of the blender’s jug.
After arriving back at his place, she unwrapped the penguin bucket with a tight-lipped smirk and placed it on his coffee table. Spying one of his socks laying in the foyer, she grabbed it, lifted the lid of the ice bucket and dropped it inside. Replacing the lid, she said, “There.” He asked what the hell? Was it a sock bucket now? Then she tickled him. And then the clothes were off.
Then, they napped. They woke hungry. Which led them to the kitchen.
Which is where he was now, finding it strange that he was wondering if he should add the Tabasco or garlic to the blender first.
Same time. In they went.
In eleven months, he’d never uttered those three words. Sure, he’d come close, but it was everything he could do to remain a guy around her and not dissolve into some whiny, huggy mannish thing. So he’d taken the opposite approach: silence. And some farting mixed in to break-up the silence every now and then. But that afternoon, he was sure he loved her. The stained glass window over the sink had an alluring kaleidoscope effect on her right cheek and he blurted out
“You’re just saying that because I’m making you a sandwich,” she said.
So he walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and slipped his right thumb into the waistband of her skirt and whispered
This made her turn around, his sandwich – abandoned. His arms pulled her tighter, closer.
“Chris. Jesus…Chris. C’mon. Quit fucking around. You can eat your sandwich and I’ll fuck you again. Stop trying to be cute.”
Fuck cute. Marry me.
He was pretty sure that was where he fucked up. Adding some cinnamon powder into the blender, he eyed half a banana left over from breakfast. One peeling motion freed the nanner from its Fruit Suit (she’d have liked Fruit Suit – froot sooot) and the pale phallic mass went into the blender while the Fruit Suit was flung into the sink. And then the words came. Her words. He’d finally found his words but she’d found more.
Apparently, there were problems. He didn’t talk – that was the first problem she mentioned. The problems just kept flowing from there. Apparently you cannot marry someone who has never said, “I love you.” And it was obvious she felt she did all of the talking. She didn’t want him to hold her and he should take his hand from around her waist and just
He placed the lid on the blender and pressed the button marked HIGH on the base. It clunked and thudded and whirred, a certain foam rising and threatening the top. Fairly sure the culprit was the beer.
She’d stood in silence after he’d removed his hands from her waist, retreating from him to lean back against the counter. He tried to speak, eking out a but, Amy only to be held off by the raise of her opened hand. It was like she’d run out of steam, just like the ingredients in his epicurean abomination currently caught in the blender. There was no more fight.
He turned off the blender and removed the jug from its motorized holster. The foam seemed to be subsiding.
Something huge was going on with the game in the next room and an announcer was yelping First and goal! First-and-goal, folks. You’ve gotta hand it to the Chargers…
Inside the jug was a hazy concoction reeking of hops, the oddest shade of milky burgundy. Probably the yogurt and Tabasco. If it were possible to capture the stench of a beer-soaked teenage basketball player’s unwashed jock strap, he’d achieved it in liquid form.
She finally closed the chasm that he’d opened between them, making her way to him, gently wrapping her hands around wrists that peeked out over the edge of his jeans pockets where he’d stuffed his hands. With a ghostly kiss on his right cheek, she released his wrists and slid on her flip flops that sat by the kitchen door. No need to rehash the rest. With a lick of his lips, he raised the jug to his mouth and chugged.
The predicted sensation began, starting in his throat. He dropped the jug to the counter and turned towards the sink, both hands bracing for the imminent eviction.
Stabbing. Pins and ice picks and fuck it if he wasn’t dying. He retched into the sink violently, as if he retched hard enough his emotions might just leave him the hell alone out of pure pity. He’d always thought that Buick sounded like retching. And this made him laugh.
When you were vomiting, laughing was never good.
The retch stung his nose as it bubbled out with each snortle. Oh man, if Amy could see him now. He may not be good with words or love or saying excuse me but he could
with the best of them!
He wiped a sleeve across his nose, still feeling the sting of the vomit, remnants continuing to dribble out. But he was still laughing.
He’d made himself Buick.
Turning his head to the side and resting on both arms, he continued chuckling. He supposed that it was pretty goddamn presumptuous to think that she would have actually said yes. But then again, he hadn’t thought about saying any of what he said. It just (fell out) of his mouth
He blamed the kaleidoscope on her cheek and the way she sliced the tomatoes. The sight of her made him…yearn. And all he could manage to say was Marry me. What a fucktard.
He thought to pour the remaining contents of the blender down the drain, but instead stood there in a faceoff: man against jug. It was first and blend and Amy put up a killer defense. The only move he knew would win and score the goal was the HIGH button on the blender because it would get rid of everything else in his way. The beer, the bile, the sick feeling he had for fucking up something so good by saying nothing at all to a woman who did everything for him.
The game in the other room was still going wild. You’ve gotta see this, folks – I have NEVER seen an 80 yard return like that! Maybe the Chargers weren’t fucking up his second place standing as much as they had been before he’d decided to blend.
His purging seemed to do some good. Except Amy – she was, of course, still gone. He’d passively purged her after months of being the drone. He could talk to colleagues about any challenge that came across the boardroom conference table, yet he was struck dumb by this auburn apparition that thought
well, that thought he was worthy.
The Chargers were now up by 10 but he was still down by one. Grabbing the jug once more, he walked into the living room and took his place on the couch. He placed the jug on the coffee table next to the penguin/sock bucket and lifted its lid. Spying the single green and white sock inside, he grabbed it with one hand and the blender jug with the other and leaned back.
With a low-keyed chortle, he raised the jug to his lips one more time and chugged. As he waited for the inevitable, he wiped his lips with the sock. The bile rose…
and that’s a touchdown, folks. I’ve never seen anything like this!